North Carolina A&T State University Crowned Champion in $100,000 ACC Clean Energy Challenge
Runner-Up Clemson Wins $5,000 in DOE Competition
Bioadhesive Alliance Inc., a team from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University developing a bio-based adhesive for potential use as a substitute to petroleum-based asphalt binder, won the second annual ACC Clean Energy Challenge and the Department of Energy’s $100,000 grand prize, competition officials announce today.
The North Carolina A&T State University team presented their technology to a panel of expert judges from the clean energy community at the ACC Clean Energy Challenge Final Four on April 9 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.
Bioadhesive Alliance now moves on to represent the southeast region in the DOE National Clean Energy Business Plan Finals in Washington, D.C., this June.
Winning second place and $5,000 was Clemson University’s Brewcovery, whose team is developing bio-separation and bio-digestion processes to recover and refine value-added co-products from the bio-based food industry and brewery waste.
The daylong ACC Clean Energy Challenge finals event began with the Elite Eight Plus Two semifinalists, comprised of eight teams earning automatic berths from their respective ACC school competitions and two at-large teams from non-ACC schools in the southeast United States, competing to advance to the Final Four. Along with North Carolina A&T and Clemson, the judging panel selected NC State and Duke to advance in the competition. The $100,000 prize and ACC Clean Energy Cup were presented to Bioadhesive Alliance by Department of Energy officials, along with representatives from competition co-host schools NC State, Duke University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and competition organizer University of Maryland.
“NC State was honored to host the ACC Clean Energy Challenge in partnership with Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, and Maryland,” said Dr. Tom Miller, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Entrepreneurship. “The best part of the competition was seeing the talent and entrepreneurial spirit that spans across all of the universities that participated. It was truly an impressive group of student entrepreneurs who are committed to developing real-world solutions in the cleantech industry.”
Bioadhesive Alliance’s winning technology, an environmentally friendly bio-based adhesive, is a sustainable alternative resource developed from the thermochemical liquefaction process converting swine manure to a bio-binder, while sequestering carbon and greenhouse gases otherwise released into the atmosphere.
Competition judges were impressed by the Bioadhesive Alliance team’s presentation, which was refined through the company’s participation in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. Bioadhesive’s team, all from North Carolina A&T State University, includes graduate student Daniel Oldham and business development professional Mahour Parast. Civil Engineering Assistant Professor Elham “Ellie” Fini serves as the team’s technical advisor.
The Clemson Brewcovery team is developing a bio-separation and bio-digestion system to create energy and additional products from food industry and brewery waste while reducing the carbon footprint of these facilities. Those products could include bio-lipids for biofuel production, organic nitrogen and phosphorus rich soil amendments, and high protein animal feeds. Brewcovery’s team includes biosystems engineering graduate student David Thornton, sustainable agriculture graduate student Alex Pellett, environmental engineering alumna Holly Garret, and Dr. Terry H. Walker, Professor, biosystems engineering.
The ACC Clean Energy Challenge finals commenced with keynote speaker Mark Johnson, Program Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), who provided insights into the future direction of the cleantech field and inspired students to continue the development of their cutting-edge technologies. Upon conclusion of the team presentations, Lee Anne Nance, Senior Vice President of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, moderated a panel titled “Cleantech Entrepreneurship: From Seed to Start-Up to Seasoned Enterprise.” Panelists included: John Bluth, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations/Corporate Communications, PowerSecure International; Scott Bolin, Co-founder and CEO, Tethis; Tim Fairchild, Director of Global Utilities Practice, SAS; Rachele Haber-Thomson, Impact Fellow at Investor’s Circle; and Bob Kingery, Co-Founder and President, Southern Energy Management.
The ACC Clean Energy Challenge networking reception, held the evening of April 8, provided the semifinalist teams with the opportunity to network with successful entrepreneurs and executives in the cleantech sector. Speakers, who provided students with an overview of the opportunities available to their companies at various stages of the company lifecycle, from start-up to partnering to mergers and acquisitions, included: Dr. Terri Lomax, Vice Chancellor for Research, NC State University; Rob Glass, Vice President of Technology, CREE; Allan Burchett, Senior Vice President of Business Development, ABB; and Jason Sulham, Pew Charitable Trusts.
The $100K ACC Clean Energy Challenge is a business plan competition encouraging students from all universities throughout the southeastern United States to develop business plans for new clean energy companies focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements and advanced fuels/vehicles. As part of the Obama Administration’s effort to support and empower the next generation of American clean energy entrepreneurs, the Department of Energy selected the ACC Clean Energy Challenge and five additional regional competitions in the U.S. as part of its inaugural nationwide network of student-focused clean energy business plan competitions over the next three years.